The Fundamental Flaw Between Spider-Men

spider-man-2-cell-phone
Where did this cell phone come from?

 

In light of The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s release on blu-ray and DVD, the head honchos at Sony decided to release the first ten minutes of the film… you know, like Marvel did with Captain America: The Winter Soldier… but Marvel/Disney did it before the movie came out, assured that it would entice people to watch the film and Sony is doing it now out of desperation.

I went into the first ten minutes with an open-mind. What I saw was a train wreck.

First, many people praise the CGI in this film, but to me it looks fake; more fake than it has been. There doesn’t seem to be a weight to Spidey, or a model. At times, the torso is elongated and rigid; at others it flexes with the best contortionists (yes, all within the first ten minutes). It doesn’t look like a person, a Spider-Man, or for that matter, Andrew Garfield.

Say what you will about Raimi’s Spider-Men, because sure the CGI is outdated, but at least Spidey looked modeled after Tobey Maguire’s build.

Another problem is the web shooters, shoot out wiggly. This won’t make much sense until you watch the footage, but they’re lax until Spidey pulls the web taut. It may seem like a small qualm at first, but it adds to this overall sense that he’s fake and weightless; just a cartoon that pretends to work in a world of physics. If there’s so much pressure in those web shooters, why don’t they shoot out like a bullet?

Anyway, after nonchalantly swinging around New York, the police say a plutonium thief is southbound. Now, we never see a bluetooth headset or spider sense, so we don’t know how Spidey knows this. Regardless, Spidey goes in pursuit.

The bad guy (rhino), is trashing the city in some impenetrable truck; ramming through traffic like a rhino (I’ll give them that one). While this chaos ensues, Spidey takes his sweet time taunting the guy. He’s pulling pranks and joking about while this thug plows through car after car after car – full of people I might add. This makes Spider-Man’s selective save of Max Dillon all the more strange.

The rhino plows into a two cabs (that were both moving, so they must have people in them) and Spidey jumps to save Max, a random dude in the street… meanwhile one of the cabs is flattened and skids across the road, no doubt smearing the driver and potential family of passengers on the pavement.

Then Spider-Man gets hit by a car (not by a villain but a passerby because, you know, no spider-sense) and his phone starts ringing the classic cartoon theme.

Where did that phone come from? Was it webbed to his thigh? Include that! That’s funny, that modernizes the guy. No? Okay, it appears out of nowhere and disappears.

Gwen is on the phone, she knows what he’s up to and she’s about to give her valedictorian speech at graduation and Parker is going to miss it. He claims he’s going as fast as he can, but if that were true, then why was he nonchalantly swinging around New York at the start of the film, and dicking around with the rhino and talking with Max Dillon?

Then, Spidey hangs up and sees Gwen’s late father in the police truck alongside him which tonally doesn’t fit in with this springy heist scene, but I guess they added it as a reminder to give Spidey some character later.

Anyway, after the phone call, Spidey heads over to the truck and says, “Hey, I told you I was running late,” only he didn’t say he was running late in the first place, so they clearly dubbed over this sequence to add the script in post.

He then tries to punch through the glass windshield. Again, he tries to punch through the glass windshield. This is the guy who, in the previous movie, dented a football goalpost with a flick of his wrist. This is a guy who, in about 5 seconds from this scene, will stop a bus’ forward momentum with no problem. So no, I don’t care if his glass is bullet-proof, you should be able to break through.

But the rhino rams into a bus, so Parker saves the bus while Gwen gives a speech about death and dying — fitting?

Then, Spidey humiliates the rhino, they shoehorn in a Stan Lee cameo, Parker grabs his diploma, makes out with the valedictorian, high-fives the principal, and then some boring dialogue ensues with his aunt about how she wishes her husband was there and he wishes his parents were there — so he one-upped his aunt.

Who wore it better?
Who wore it better?

A Spider-Man Comparison (Raimi and Webb)

A lot of people seem conflicted when it comes to comparing different interpretations of Spider-Man. I think part of this is the fact that you shouldn’t compare movies unless it’s a sequel, then it’s okay because presumably you saw the first — especially when you’re advertising the sequel as a number (ex. Iron Man 2) and not with a tagline (Thor: The Dark World).

In addition, by comparing it opens up the arguments of all variations of Spider-Man, comparing television series’ portrayals and comic books — video games, maybe.

Marc Webb’s reboot compared to Sam Raimi’s initial film was a bit more fair since they both told the same origin story. And, in fairness, you can’t really compare The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to Raimi’s movies… but what I can compare is character because Raimi got it right.

Although the first ten minutes is original, it mirrors a scene from Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 when Peter Parker is on his moped (scooter?) trying to get to Mary Jane’s play when suddenly BAM, two car thieves ram his moped down and are firing guns at cops. Then Parker suits up, stops the car thieves and arrives late at Mary Jane’s show.

Structurally, they’re the same.

  • Peter Parker tries to arrive at important event for girlfriend.
  • Car jackers get in the way.
  • Peter misses event.

Where the two stop being similar is in the consequences.

There are ALWAYS Consequences.
There are ALWAYS Consequences.

In Raimi’s Spider-Man, Peter’s preoccupation with being a superhero means he missed the show, so he is punished. Mary Jane is mad at him and he suffers loss.

In Webb’s, Peter shows up, makes out with the girl anyway, and even when they talk about it, she’s not upset. There were no consequences.

That’s a fundamental storytelling flaw.

In addition, Raimi is just a better visual storyteller. The parallel scene shows Peter Parker in his evening attire trying to get to Mary Jane’s play. Crime however, gets in the way of that. We saw Peter’s intent without needing to be told. The fact that he takes the stolen vehicle to exemplify his bitterness in being late is a neat added bonus. We see that he’s trying to uphold his promises and responsibility is a burden. We see the difficulty in playing both sides.

With Webb however, we spend the first minute and a half watching Spider-Man nonchalantly swinging around town. There is no agenda, he’s just playing around. So again, we see that Parker has more fun playing the hero than he does adhering to human responsibilities, i.e. attending his graduation.

For Webb’s Parker, crime is a recreational activity, but for Raimi’s it’s a responsibility — that’s the difference.

This could easily be remedied in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 if the rhino was stealing a nuclear warhead or was en route to the high school graduation ceremony. You know, something that intrudes on Parker’s social obligations, but it doesn’t. That’s the result of a director filming action scenes and adding script stuff in post. It’s obvious and it doesn’t work.

Finally, I can’t enjoy a film about Garfield’s Parker because he’s such a pompous prick.

I saved your life, now I OWN you!
I saved your life, now I OWN you!

In Raimi’s, Peter Parker is always trying to be a role model. He didn’t save people so he could shove his awesomeness in their face, he saved people and then gave common parental advice, “No more playing in the street,” “Work out, eat your green vegetables,” etc. However, Marc Webb’s version is “I saved your life sucka, remember ma name!” It may not be written that way, but that’s how it comes off.

As I mentioned in my review of The Amazing Spider-Man, the biggest hurdle this reboot would ever overcome is make us like the hero, but when your hero is an unrelatable, adrenaline-addicted dick, who shirks responsibilities and still gets everything he wants, I don’t relate.

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